Summary (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
The Man in the High Castle belongs to the subgenre of science fiction known as alternate history. Most science-fiction novels postulate future developments (ranging from intergalactic travel to all manner of bionic devices) which have brought about a world much different from that of the reader. In contrast, alternate-history novels look into the past, imagining how subsequent history might have developed if the outcome of some key events or series of events had been different. Ward Moore’s novel Bring the Jubilee (1953), for example, is based on the premise that the South won the Civil War. Kingsley Amis’s The Alteration (1976) imagines a Europe in which the Reformation never took place. On a larger scale, Orson Scott Card in Seventh Son (1987) and its sequels has created an alternate history of America in the nineteenth century.
The Man in the High Castle imagines a world in which Germany and Japan, rather than the United States and the Soviet Union, are the two superpowers. In Dick’s alternate history, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was assassinated during his first term; the lack of his strong leadership was one factor that contributed to the Allies’ defeat. World War II ended in 1947; the action of the novel takes place fifteen years later, in 1962 (the year in which The Man in the High Castle was published).
The setting is a conquered America, divided into several...
(The entire section is 1242 words.)
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